Updated: February 14, 2020 08:50 AM GMT
Work is underway to rebuild St. Mary’s Catholic Church in the city of Gujranwala in Pakistan. (Photo supplied)
In a rare display of interfaith harmony, Muslim villagers are helping Christians rebuild a Catholic church in the eastern Pakistani city of Gujranwala.
The foundation stone of St. Mary’s Church, which is being rebuilt to accommodate more worshipers, was laid by Father Samran Anwar, parish priest of St. Joseph’s Parish, in the Butranwali district of Gujranwala in November last year.
The city is approximately 80 kilometers north of Lahore, the capital of Punjab province.
Around 50 Christian families are estimated to be living in the Muslim-majority community where the church is being rebuilt.
“It is an example of true love and brotherhood that Muslim people have opened their hearts and are financing the construction work,” Father Samran said.
“A church is the physical body of Christ on earth and we are the living parts of that one body because of the spirit of God. It is the physical representation of Heaven itself and the Holy Mass is celebrated in a church.
“We are glad that not only the local Christian community but also our Muslim brothers are supporting the construction work, which is a true sign of brotherhood and peace.
“The contribution coming from our Muslim neighbors for this holy cause will never be forgotten.”
Nazir Masih, a local teacher in charge of the renovation work, said St. Joseph’s Parish is one of 27 parishes in Lahore Archdiocese.
“It is one of the oldest mission stations in the archdiocese, founded in 1953 by Capuchin missionaries from Belgium. This rebuilt church will be a visible sign of our identity and a shelter for the faithful. We need financial support to complete the construction work without any further delay.”
Local Muslims said they were helping in order to maintain a long community tradition of living in peace with one another.
A Muslim resident who requested anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue said he had contributed 60,000 rupees (about US$400) to the cause.
“My small contribution for the House of God has filled my heart with joy which cannot be expressed in words. We [Muslims and Christians] live side by side in peace and harmony. Our community is a shining example for others,” he said.